I pastored for thirty-three years. Twenty-eight of those as a senior pastor.
One of the things I wished I had learned much, much earlier in my leadership was....
The Importance Of Communication!
Although being a good public communicator is important, that's not what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the importance of having a clear process of communication within a church - or as far as that goes - within any organization.
The Business World Gets It
I was once talking to a CEO of a very successful business, and he told me that he spends at least 50% of his time - if not more - with his senior leadership team, his managers, his employees, his customers, his board, and his stockholders - making sure they have clear and consistent communication about what's happening in the company. Wow!... 50% of his time...or more!
I Didn't Get It
I'm an introvert and a contemplator. So I "live in my head a lot." And as a leader, since what I was trying to do, where I was trying to go, and how I was trying to get there - was all pretty clear in my head ... and since I had had a few conversations in staff meetings about the direction of the church ... and since I had an annual "vision meeting" with the church I led ... I assumed my communication was good. NOT!
Two Lesson's I've Learned
1. You need a clear decision making process and a clear communication process within your church or organization.
For me, the decision making process, along with the communication process, went from me, to the elders, to the deacons, to the staff, to the key influencers, to the entire congregation.
So anytime I stood up to communicate a decision that had been made - everyone knew that the decision making process and the communication process had gone through that thorough process.
I can't tell you how much heartache this would save a lot of pastors/leaders if they simply had this kind of clear decision making process and communication process in place.
I worked with a church recently that was going through some really difficult times. And if you had to pull on the string and figure out why they were having the turmoil they were having, it was primarily because the lead pastor was a) making decisions on his own and b) giving very limited communication to his congregation.
2. People are more concerned with the "why" of a decision than they are of the how, when, and where.
Often times in our communication process - whether it's spoken or written, or whether its in a one-on-one meeting or a leadership team meeting - we spend more time focusing on the how, when, and where than we do the why. But what I've found, if people are clear and convinced of the "why" (the reasons behind the decision you've made), then they are much more open to the how, where, and when of the decision.
Yet many pastors/leaders spend time communicating a lot of the details (in the weeds) without first giving clear, consistent, and convincing communication of the why/reasons.
I'm currently working with a church that just changed their name. For most churches that's a pretty big deal which can bring up a lot of resistance and turmoil. But this pastor did a GREAT JOB spending lots of time - both written and verbal - with the staff, council, influencers, and congregation - communicating the WHY behind the name change. As a result, the church ratified the new vision and name change with a 97.5% vote affirming the new name.
It’s Worth It
Granted, it takes time, energy, effort, forethought, and planning - but in the end it will eliminate - or at least greatly lessen - a great deal of confusion, chaos, and conflict with your leadership, within your congregation. Guarantee it!
Sincerely offered as a fellow traveler.
Ken L Roberts
PS. If I can further serve you, I’d be honored.